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Major donor underwrites Equine Veterinary Referral Center

September 11, 2007 By Tania Banak

The new Morrie Waud Equine Center, a facility designed to train veterinary medicine students from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is now officially open for business.

Morrie Waud joins the Morrie Waud Equine Center hospital staff in the facility’s covered lameness exam arena.

Morrie Waud (in the carriage seat, joined by his Miniature Pinscher, Robin) joins the Morrie Waud Equine Center hospital staff in the facility’s covered lameness exam arena. From left to right: Dr. Jacob Goodin, Mike Hastings, Erika Thom, Dr. Britany Benson, Carrie Kuschel, Jamie Walbrandt, and Sabrina Freter.

"The first thing newcomers notice about the new Morrie Waud Equine Center is the spaciousness," says Mike Hastings, the center’s business manager. "The parking area accommodates even the biggest horse trailers, making it easy for clients to access the state-of-the-art veterinary care facilities."

Once inside, he notes that visitors are invariably impressed by the size of the main surgery suite, equipped with huge picture windows that allow clients to watch surgery from above.

Owned and operated by the Friends of the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Teaching Program, Inc. – a non-profit corporation – this new equine veterinary referral practice is affiliated with the UW School of Veterinary Medicine for the purpose of training veterinary medical students. It offers equine surgery (including colic and orthopedic), ophthalmology, digital radiography, lameness diagnosis, 24-hour intensive care, and more.

The center, located east of Janesville, includes a covered sand arena for lameness exams, additional surgery suites, a reproduction area, and private exam rooms.

The center is named for the major donor to the Friends group that owns and operates the facility. Morrie Waud, who raises Suffolk draft horses on his farm near Long Grove, Ill., says his donation was motivated by a desire to attract more veterinary students with a strong interest in equine practice.

"I want to put the Wisconsin veterinary school at the forefront of equine medicine, like New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania, where Barbaro went," he says. "It’s a chance for the students to see different cases than they would see just in Madison."

He also admits that the convenience of having a facility that’s more accessible to his seven-draft-horse trailer rig factored into his decision.

"It’s an opportunity to be on the ground floor of something really big," says Britany Benson, a staff veterinarian at the center. She is excited to be working for a facility that couples the personal touch of private practice with the teaching environment of a university.

"It’s the best of both worlds," she says. "I really enjoyed teaching while I was at the University of Illinois, and I’ll get to continue to interact with students, interns and residents. But clients appreciate seeing the same doctor each time they come, which isn’t possible in the university environment."

According to Dale Bjorling, a member of the board of the non-profit organization, veterinary medical students from UW–Madison with a strong interest in equine practice will get a chance to sign up for an elective rotation at the clinic. "We’re very excited about the educational possibilities," he says.